Lack of effect of short-term fasting on cognitive function

J Psychiatr Res. 1995 May-Jun;29(3):245-53. doi: 10.1016/0022-3956(95)00009-t.


In a study designed to assess the effects of short-term food deprivation on cognitive function, a sample of female subjects (N = 21) was tested on a number of measures of cognitive function after three levels of food deprivation (miss one meal, miss two meals or miss all food for 24 h prior to testing) and a condition in which they ate normally for 24 h prior to testing. There was found to be no significant effects of food deprivation on sustained attention, attentional focus, simple reaction time or immediate memory. However, performance on a low processing load tapping task was significantly poorer when the subjects were deprived of food for 24 h prior to testing, and heart rate was significantly higher when they were non-deprived. These results stand in contrast to the impairments in cognitive function previously found to be associated with spontaneous dieting behaviour (using essentially the same task battery).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Reaction Time / physiology